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Explain Awards to Me. Seriously.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jgmacg, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Having watched my friends and colleagues here hack away at one another for several weeks on several threads about the ways and means of "writing awards," some honest questions:

    What do they mean to you? Why are they important? Are they important?

    I think arts awards have ruined more young careers than red liquor and blue smoke combined - but I'm as apt to cite them in my bio as the next person.

    What gives?
     
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Michelle Kaufman had a good answer on one of the many threads. I share a similar theory.

    They are important because they mean at least someone liked your stuff better than the other stuff among those who entered. It's an affirmation of your hard work to some degree.
    But it is quite subjective.
    You, jmacg, could read a story and think, wow, perfection.
    I could read the same story and think, wow, horseshit.

    Neither of us is wrong. You like it, I don't. Pure opinion.
    If you are the judge, it wins. If I am, it does not.

    If it does win, the writer feels good because someone really liked it - and the writer should feel good.
    But the writer should not feel bad because I don't like it.

    APSE awards are allegedly judged by your peers and have always carried more weight, right or wrong.

    I know this - I worked at a pretty good paper until recently. We won like one section award in 15 years. Some people thought we sucked because of that. We did not suck.
     
  3. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    Great topic, jgmacg.

    I care because, at times, this can be a shit job. The pay is lousy, the hours are consuming and there are real concerns about the long-term future of it all. When you're 24, finding yourself extremely late paying the bills because the money just is not there and concerned because that second job offer (the one that would fix the cash flow problem) would have payed you about 50 cents more an hour, you need something to keep you going.
    So you convince yourself that the only thing standing in between you and happiness is one APSE. That's going to get you the next job, pay the utility bill and come with a bottle of good scotch.
     
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    If you're looking to move up from your current job, they mean a lot...

    They mean a lot more than they should... The problem is about half of them are truly great work... The other half is being in the right place at the right time or happening to cover a team that did something interesting.
     
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    A lot of good sports editors have lost their jobs based on that contest...

    A lof of bad ones have kept their jobs because their papers typically do well...

    I won my first two APSEs when I was at a paper that was in the 100,000-250,000 category. In reality, that's the easiest category to win in since so few papers fall into that category. That's why you see certain papers win almost every year.
     
  6. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Many people in or around our business make too much hullabaloo over awards. For some, it's the driving force behind what they do. It never should be.

    Frankly, the only reason I'd want to win an award or have my paper win a shitload of them is because that's really the one tangible thing I can point to that anyone understands. I could say 'till I'm blue in the face that my paper's better than it was before I got there, but how would I be able to say that without blowing smoke out of my ass?

    If the paper wins more awards than it did before I got there, it's something you don't have to explain to someone who doesn't get the business. People get awards. People get peer recognition. They get those things in ways they don't get subtle differences such as changing byline styles or adding breakout boxes or reformatting opinion columns or dramatically reducing the number of wire stories your paper runs.
     
  7. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    bookmark.
     
  8. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I work at a small daily and I'm tempted to enter our stuff in a larger category next year just to see what happens. We can't compete when it comes to sections, but I'd like to think we'd have a shot in writing.
     
  9. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    I would hope, by looking to move up from your current job, it's not how many awards or what awards you've won, but it's how good of a writer/reporter you are on a daily basis, the confidence and references you've built within your shop and, finally, the contacts you've made in the business.
     
  10. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I know a guy who isn't a very good writer by most standards, but he has a trunkful of writing awards from state press associations. I know folks who bleed magic on paper and can't get an honorable mention from those same groups. And often it's not what you write, but what you're writing about. Subjective supreme, these things are.
     
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    that's true to a certain degree, meat. you also have to be intelligent enough to write the shit out of something when you know the topic has the potential to be an award winner.
     
  12. FreddiePatek

    FreddiePatek Active Member

    I don't think it's necessarily easier to win in those larger categories. Yes, there are fewer entries, but the overall quality is much higher than the lower categories.

    That said ... horribly objective.
    That said again ... good if you win, no big whoop if you lose.

    That's just the way I see'd it.
     
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